by Allan Lengel, Washington Post
The discovery of Chandra Levy's skeletal remains will reinvigorate a
police and grand jury investigation that had floundered for lack of physical
evidence, law enforcement authorities and legal observers said
D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, while cautioning that "it remains
be seen" how much investigators will learn from the evidence found in Rock
Creek Park, said an FBI lab analysis of the clothing near Levy's remains
turn up blood, semen or hair that could prove helpful in solving the case.
Another law enforcement source said the bones themselves could yield
Although police and FBI agents have conducted more than 1,000 interviews
since the 24-year-old former federal intern from California disappeared
almost 13 months ago, the certainty that Levy is dead will sharpen their
focus and prompt them to ask different questions, Ramsey said.
"It shifts the focus, absolutely," Ramsey said. "Now you know you have
death investigation. It moves down a different path."
David Schertler, a private attorney in Washington and former federal
prosecutor, was more skeptical about whether the forensic evidence would
provide clues as to how Levy died.
"It's very unlikely when it's exposed to the elements like that," he
said. "The possibility of finding blood or somebody's body fluids on
clothing, in my view, would be extremely unlikely. It's obviously something
that should be tested." Schertler said pathologists studying the bones might
be able to determine how Levy died -- whether she was stabbed, shot or
beaten, for example.
Lacking evidence of Levy's death, police had continued to classify her
disappearance as a missing persons case even though they had strongly
suspected foul play. Last night, Ramsey stopped short of calling the death
homicide, saying he is awaiting the D.C. medical examiner's report. But
said the case would be moved to the department's violent crime squad.
Investigators no longer will be sidetracked by theories that Levy decided
on her own to run off or is being held captive somewhere, Ramsey and other
Ramsey declined to say whether police would devote additional manpower
the case, saying only that resources would be provided as needed.
A D.C. Superior Court grand jury is continuing to investigate Levy's
disappearance and allegations of obstruction of justice involving U.S. Rep.
Gary A. Condit (D-Calif.). The grand jury has been looking into several
allegations, including whether Condit tried to stop a flight attendant from
telling investigators about an affair she had with him.
Law enforcement sources said the discovery of Levy's remains could prompt
the grand jury to be more aggressive in subpoenaing people to testify.
Investigators said Condit admitted to them last summer that he had an
affair with Levy before her disappearance. He was interviewed by police
times and went before a grand jury last month.
Law enforcement officials said throughout their probe that there was
evidence Condit was involved in Levy's disappearance. They refused to call
him a suspect but also declined to clear his name.
Levy vanished May 1, 2001, shortly before she planned to move back to
California. The probe into her disappearance began slowly and quietly. But
in a short time, it developed into a coast-to-coast investigation, and
reports of Condit's relationship with Levy fanned the news media's
D.C. police took the lead in the investigation, with assistance from
agents in the District and California and from the Stanislaus County
Sheriff's Department in Modesto, Calif. In July, 50 D.C. police recruits
spent 2 1/2 weeks searching wooded areas of the District -- including much
of Rock Creek Park.
Schertler cautioned yesterday that finding Levy's remains in the park
"doesn't necessarily tell you this was the scene of the crime."
"It could have been a situation where the crime happened in an apartment,
house or car," he said, "and this was where the perpetrator secreted the
body so it wouldn't easily be found."